Lord, Cleanse Our Outer Courts
On Monday of Holy Week, Jesus entered the temple and in anger, drove out the merchants who were selling and trading, making profit on Passover necessities (see Matthew 21:12-16; Mark 12:15-19; Luke 19:45-47). This was most likely from the area of the temple known as the outer courts, where non-Jews could enter the Temple and seek God for themselves. What caused Jesus such righteous anger? There were plenty of places to buy and sell, but the people chose the temple for this, showing both a lack of reverence for God AND a lack of concern for outsiders that might seek Him. With the world at the doorsteps, God’s people were more concerned with buying and selling. They had lost the Father’s heart for the outsider and His vision of them being a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 60:3). Jesus’ teaching had emphasized the Father’s heart in this regard (see Luke 15) and now he was backing up his words with a demonstration of anger at their sinful disregard.
We would do well to remember this scene as we examine our hearts, homes, and churches today. Do we have a place for outsiders? When those far from God see us, do they see the gracious and compassionate God of love and mercy? Is our primary focus seeking and saving the lost and being a light to the nations? Do we have the Father’s heart for the world? What would Jesus need to drive out and overturn from our hearts, homes, and churches to restore the place of outreach and witness? What would Jesus need to drive out and overturn in my life, so that I could rightly prioritize the lost and broken?
Lord, give us your heart for the outsider. Let us be a faithful witness to your grace and mercy. Cleanse our outer courts, so that nothing we do or say will distract the world from their need and your provision of redemption and eternal life in Jesus Christ.